Round two of the US Open begins on Wednesday in New York, with 16 matches from the top half of the draw on the schedule for today.
The weather is set to be hot and humid again on Wednesday in Flushing and no doubt we will see more retirements to add to the main draw men’s singles US Open record of 10 that was chalked up in round one.
Tuesday got off to a good start for those who took a chance on Aljaz Bedene, who defeated Ernests Gulbis by way of retirement, and when Thanasi Kokkinakis retired a little while later the Open era record for retirements fell.
But it didn’t end well, with Jared Donaldson blowing his chance in set one against Lukas Rosol by failing to see out the set from 6-4 ahead in the tie break and that was always likely to be a killer blow in the brutally hot conditions.
And Leo Mayer had an absolute shocker against his idol Roger Federer, with the Argentine crippled by nerves and unable to relax and play anything like his best tennis.
At least the ‘sure thing’ bet was a winner again, as Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem and Ivo Karlovic all progressed and all three without dropping a set.
All 16 of Wednesday’s match-ups feature clashes that have taken place at least once before, which is rare, and looking back at the 2014 US Open’s second round we saw only seven of 31 matches won by the underdog.
The biggest winner was Andrey Kuznetsov, who was a 3.85 shot to beat Fernando Verdasco, just ahead of the 3.64 about Adrian Mannarino beating Fabio Fognini.
Both Fognini and Verdasco are in action today and we start at around 16:00 UK time (11:00 local).
David Ferrer vs Filip Krajinovic
I watched the only prior career meeting between this pair courtside in Barcelona a few years ago and not much has changed in the meantime, with Ferrer likely to be far too consistent for the Serb.
Once touted as a star of the future the injury-prone Krajinovic has failed to make much of a mark on the higher echelons of the game, with a peak ranking of 86 and a 2-12 record against top-50 opposition.
One of those wins was by retirement and the other against a disinterested Fognini, while in majors his round one success over the equally limited Alejandro Gonzalez was his first ever in six tries.
Assuming Ferrer has come out of his first match in some time okay the Spaniard will win this one comfortably.
We can add Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga into the mix as well to make a 1.30 ‘sure thing’ treble for Wednesday too.
Nadal looked decent against Borna Coric and he should be a straight sets winner over diminutive Argentine clay courter Diego Schwartzman, who doesn’t have the firepower to test Rafa.
And Tsonga has too much in his locker on a hard court at a major for Marcel Granollers, who has been in awful form himself prior to beating the equally hapless Lukas Lacko in round one here.
Tsonga is 26-2 in the second round of majors, with the two losses coming to Gulbis by retirement at Wimbledon 2013 and to Martin Klizan here in New York in 2012.
Granollers has never won a set at a major after the round of 32 and has won three of his last 21 matches against the top-20 and he’s 1-16 against them in majors.
Of the other short ones today I don’t like Grigor Dimitrov at 1.13 and I’m not totally convinced about Marin Cilic at 1.12 either, or Benoit Paire, but more on him below.
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Pablo Carreno Busta
This RBA vs PCB clash of the Spaniards may well be closer than the odds suggest, with Carreno Busta suddenly in the last fortnight appearing to have found a hard court game that was never there in the past.
PCB arrived in Winston-Salem with a 4-12 record on outdoor hard at main level to his name, with no wins against anyone ranked inside the top-90 in the world.
But after changing it up a bit he beat (an admittedly fading) Tommy Haas, then Joao Sousa, and Simone Bolelli, before losing a tight one to eventual finalist Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
He backed that up by taking down Jerzy Janowicz in round one here and he’s done it largely by hitting flatter and taking up a more aggressive position on the baseline.
It’s a similar style to that adopted by Bautista-Agut and one that should make for an entertaining match, which could well go to at least four sets.
This one will be played in the heat of midday so it could come down to fitness and I wouldn’t be backing RBA at 1.21 in these circumstances.
Marsel Ilhan vs Benoit Paire
The heat and humidity could be a real leveller again today and after a five set battle against Kei Nishikori in the last round and a potential let down after such a great win would you really want to be on Paire at 1.24 today?
I certainly would not and this one could very well be much tougher for the mercurial Frenchman than the prices suggest, with the Turk Ilhan likely to be less concerned by the heat.
Ilhan had a far easier time of it in round one, with only the 29 games played before Radek Stepanek retired, and he could have a considerable advantage in this 15:00 approx. local time start.
It’s set to be 32C with 50 percent humidity then and we’ll see if the Frenchman has the physical fitness and desire to fight this one out.
I also considered Martin Klizan and Ricardas Berankis as underdogs, but Klizan is notoriously bad in the heat, while Berankis had a tough five setter last time out and may pay the price today.
Sure thing: Back Ferrer, Nadal and Tsonga at 1.30
Value bet: Back over 34.5 games in Bautista-Agut/Carreno Busta at 1.84
Long shot: Back Ilhan to beat Paire at 3.95